Kelowna considered safe overall, but concerns growing about downtown

Annual citizens’ survey results lead city staff to say growing safety concerns need to be watched

While still low, concern about safety downtown is growing according to Kelowna’s latest citizens’ survey.—Image: Capital News file

Results of Kelowna’s latest citizens’ survey indicate while overall the perception is that quality of life in the city remains high, cracks could be emerging in that sunny outlook.

According to a staff report to go to council Monday, social issues took top spot in the annual survey this year, just shading out transportation issues. Growth and development was a distant third.

“It is worth noting that social issues made a statistically significant gain from 16 per cent in the 2015 survey,” says the report. In the 2017 survey, they was cited by 40 per cent of respondents.

For the first time, respondents were asked to indicate frequency of visiting downtown and describe their perception of overall safety. The question was prompted by city council wanting to see key indicators for the city’s Downtown Plan.

In total, 83 per cent of residents who responded to the survey said they go downtown at least once a month and 41 percent said they visit at least once a week. Eighty percent described the downtown area as safe. But an alarming 16 per cent described it as not very safe , while three per cent said they did not find the area safe at all.

Overall, while perceptions of quality of life in the city remain high at 94 per cent, staff note that number has declined slightly over the past three years.

“The same is true when asked about (overall) community safety, with a decrease to 90 per cent which should be closely observed,” says the report.

Staff however point to overall findings from the survey, which indicate residents feel there is a good quality of life in Kelowna as a whole, it is a generally a safe city, they are satisfied with the services being provided and feel they get good value for their tax dollars. The report says respondents are generally satisfied with the level of customer service they receive from the city.

The 2017 survey was conducted by phone, using a sample size of 300 adults. Quotas were used to get more representative data, both geographically and demographically, by establishing age, gender and postal code information.

The overall results are said to be accurate to within 5.7 percentage points 19 times out of 20.

Survey and polling company Ipsos Public Affairs conducted the survey for the city.

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